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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

152
THE EGYPTIAN PKOBLEM                CHAP.
never  before  with  Englishmen,   and   contrasted   their own penury with all the outward signs of affluence and extravagance in which Englishmen seemed to them to |      ;                       live and move and .have their being, they should have
I                       lent a ready ear to their educated fellow-countrymen who
j                       told them it was all the fault of the English and of the
•!                       Protectorate, which was reducing the people of Egypt
i                       to unending slavery ?   Is it surprising that they should
'                       have so quickly come to .believe that the only remedy
was to get rid of the English altogether out of the country, and that the first step towards that happy consummation was to join the crowd of ZaghM's followers and unite their voices with those of the great patriots who would free them from the accursed Protectorate, and lead them into the millennium of national independence ?
Par more substantial had been the grievances of a great many of the fellaheen. I have already described them. Though recruiting for the Labour Corps ceased even before the Armistice, there was no immediate or effective attempt to right the wrongs which had been undoubtedly committed in regard to war requisitions of supplies and transport. Had a proclamation been issued recognising the great value of all the contributions made by the fellaheen for the successful prosecution of the war, }                               acknowledging that under the pressure of military
]                               necessity real hardships had been, however unwillingly,
|                               inflicted upon them owing to the lack of British super-
j                               vision, and promising prompt inquiry and redress, the
|                               harm done to our reputation for kindliness and justice
f f ,,^, -|                               might have been to some extent repaired.    A few hundred
2 f ^ "                                thousand pounds  judiciously  and  promptly  expended
would have gone far to remove the sense of bitterness. After all the Syrian expedition would have been scarcely feasible without Egyptian labour and Egyptian supplies, and some expression of gratitude would not have marred its glory. But the saving word was never spoken ; and the payments due from the military authorities continued to lag for months behind, and the ugly past                    towns, the Central Government merely making certain